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How can I keep Mom safe when she's forgetting to use her walker?

Answered by Karen Garner

June 20, 2016

Mom has very severe dementia. Lives in memory care unit. Now has fallen because she does not remember to use her walker. Any suggestions?

It is a misconception that once a loved one is no longer living at home, but is instead being cared for at a facility which specializes in caring for people with dementia, that all the worries and stresses go away. How nice it would be if this were true.

Please request and schedule a meeting with the care coordinator at your Mom’s facility. You probably met with them when she moved in and you discussed her care needs at that time. Once you meet with the coordinator, ask for the staff in her unit be required to remind her to use her walker.

It may take a lot of visits at various times to follow up on this, but if you do, they will get used to watching out for her and making sure she is using her walker. When you show up to visit and check on her, if she isn’t using the walker, be vocal. Remind them that this is something that is important for her safety. You can also put a note up in her room, reminding her (if she can read) and the staff. Be her advocate. You will most likely have to follow up several times but make sure you are heard. It is frustrating and sometimes time consuming, but in the end you will be glad you did.

Thoughts and stories from others

  1. June 29, 2016 at 09:35 pm
    Posted by Karen Garner

    All of these responses are true, but unfortunately, like every aspect that is thrown at a caregiver with a dementia patient, no two cases are alike. There is no way to keep someone from falling and there is no way to make sure they use their walker 100% of the time. It is important to stay diligent with their care and to have your concerns heard. I should have stated this in my response and I am grateful to our readers for coming in behind me and helping us help others. This is what our community is all about. Please keep sharing your thoughts and ideas as there are always many more answers than I can write out for each question. Thank you!!
  2. June 28, 2016 at 01:47 pm
    Posted by Samantha Enright

    I understand Karen means to be helpful, but this advice simply won't work. No one can ensure a senior with severe dementia or Alzheimer's will never fall in a memory care facility. Unless you ban these dear people from freedom of movement, which would be horribly unethical, they are going to move about without using their assistive devices. Better advice would have been this: Accept the inevitability of your mother falling. Accidents happen. Or else pay out of pocket for a 24-hour private caregiver to stay with your mother in the facility at all times.
  3. June 23, 2016 at 08:58 pm
    Posted by Lela Lovelace

    I am a caregiver in an assistant living facility. I deal with people that have dementia everyday and I will say it is impossible to make sure an individual has their walker at all times. We try very hard to keep there walker with them but for some it is almost impossible. They have short term memories issues. We don't need constant reminders for making sure they have a walker in front of them. We don't need you to speak up and remind us. It's our job to know this. I care for my residents with love and compassion.
  4. June 22, 2016 at 03:31 pm
    Posted by Linda Isaacs

    I read this article with particular interest because I experienced the same problem with my Mother. She had advanced Alzheimer's Disease and I cared for her in her own home for four years. She would forget her walker, even when it was placed right next to her. I tried leaving notes but I found that she would look right at the note and not be able to read it. They were absolutely worthless. Nothing works except diligent, one on one care..... which can be unreasonable to expect if the person with dementia is in a facility. Best wishes to all~

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